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02-03-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2019

Attachment Bonds as Risk Factors of Intimate Partner Violence

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2019
Lucia Ponti, Franca Tani
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This study investigates whether women’s attachment to mother might influence Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victimization, both directly and indirectly, through the mediation effect of romantic partner attachment.


Twenty-nine IPV victims, aged 26–54 years (M = 39.52, SD = 8.36), and 31 women who were not victims of IPV, aged 29–54 years (M = 39.84, SD = 7.62), were recruited for the present study. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) were performed to explore differences between the clinical and control groups in attachment bonds, both to mother and romantic partner. Moreover, in order to explore if and which specific attachment bonds might play a role in predicting the onset and maintenance of violence within couple relationships, a mediational analysis was conducted.


Female victims of domestic violence present higher levels of insecurity in their attachment bonds to their mothers and their romantic partners than women who are not abused [F(3, 56) = 36.66, p = .000, η2 = .66]. Moreover, an insecure attachment to mother significantly influences the involvement in violent couple relationships in an indirect way, through insecure attachment to the romantic partner (anxiety: β = .14, p < .01; CI 95%: .022; .371; and avoidance: β = .29, p < .001; CI 95%: .132; .494).


This study highlighted that an insecure attachment could represent a risk factor for violence within couple relationships. This has strong clinical implications, especially for clinical psychologists and social workers who deal with the IPV phenomenon daily.

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